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Trip Report: Paris - Corsica - Nice (Part 1)

We just finished a 3 week trip starting with 4 nts in Paris then 2 wks in Corsica and ending with 4 nts in Nice. There is a serious void of information on Corsica so I thought I would share some observations and tips here for anyone interested in exploring this incredible, beautiful place.

First, Corsica is very easy to get to by plane or ferry from France or Italy, just as sunny as the French or Italian Riviera, and much less expensive. Tip: use Google Flights to watch fares for your preferred flight on Air Corsica. They don't release their schedule far in advance and once released prices are a little high, but set an alert and wait to buy once the price drops. We flew Paris Orly to Bastia (90 mins) coming in and Bastia to Nice (45 mins) leaving.

You must know a little French to get by. We were told repeatedly, everywhere we went, that Americans are very rare here. Sometimes they get folks from the UK, but even then not that often. So there are not that many natives here who speak English. We even had difficulty at some of the tourism information offices, including the one in Ajaccio, the biggest city on the island. I studied French in high school and college and brushed up with Duolingo for this trip so we were able to get by.

Getting around without a car is difficult, highly recommend renting a car if your itinerary will take you between locations. Driving is easy, very similar to driving in the French or Italian countryside. Lots of narrow, winding roads, there are no auto-routes here. While it may be a short distance between locations, it takes extra time because of the roads. Tip: there are often pull-outs along the road, use them if someone is following too closely for your comfort. The other driver will often give you a honk when you do this, this is the Corsican thank you.

You can only rent electric vehicles on the island. There are lots of charging stations available but it takes time to find them along your route. Additionally only 1 of the 6 places we stayed had a charger available on-site. We found that e-motum had the best fast charging options and app to locate chargers. However sometimes they were in gated pay lots - so you have to pay for parking and also the charge - and we also ran into issues with people parking and blocking the chargers even though they clearly didn't have an EV. Driving an EV is also a bit of a learning curve if you've never driven one before. So do some research on driving and charging electric vehicles beforehand. It was inexpensive though, I got a Renault Megane through Hertz for €298 for 2 weeks.

October is the off season here which means it is cheaper yet still warm for those of us used to colder climates. However many hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions close starting around October 1. Also we found that often the weather is perfect in the morning but by 2 or so the high winds, clouds, and sometimes rain come in. My 3 biggest items that I wanted to do while I was here: (1) eat the local fresh lobster in Centuri (famous there), (2) sunset cruises out of Bonifacio and Ajaccio, and (3) swim in the sea. Well lobster season ends September 30 so you can't buy it anywhere after that. Most boat excursions were closed, expecially in the afternoon. And the waves were so high because of the winds that swimming was not advisable. These are all things I could have figured out with a good guidebook but alas there is not one that I could find. So consider this if you're going off-season. (It is very cheap tho, most hotels we stayed at were 3 star and I booked the premium rooms with terrace and ocean view and cost was <€100/night. That's hard to find on the French or Italian Riviera!)

I will continue in part 2 because I'm too wordy. :)

Posted by
339 posts

Your trip report is really interesting, I’m looking forward to reading the rest of it , but I’m surprised you couldn’t find any guide books on Corsica - Rough Guide, Dorling Kindersley and Lonely Planet all do them as well as some other less-known publishers.

Posted by
6788 posts

I’m surprised you couldn’t find any guide books on Corsica - Rough
Guide, Dorling Kindersley and Lonely Planet all do them as well as
some other less-known publishers...

Alas, not really - unless you want a "guide book" that hasn't been updated since the George W Bush administration, consists mostly of pretty pictures, or appears to be just content stolen from websites and quickly thrown together as an amateurish, DIY project.

  • Rough Guide to Corsica - published in 2009 (not updated since then, AFAICT)
  • Lonely Planet Corsica - Published January 1, 2010 (so info contained was from some time before that)
  • Dorling Kindersley - aka DK Eyewitness - Corsica - There are actually two of them, a "guidebook" which was published in 2003, last "updated" in 2016; and a small, quite thin "Top 10 Corsica" booklet which looks like a subset of the aforementioned one, published 2022 (hard to tell when the info was actually updated). I have both of them, they're just OK, not great. Lots of eye candy, good for inspiration, but I have to admit, pretty light on practical details.
  • Others. There are a new crop of DIY (self-published) travel "books" now pervading Amazon - there are hundreds. This is a new plague upon the land, a product of bloggers, hucksters, and other so-called "digital nomads". Most forum participants here could probably produce better "content" if given an hour to do it. I have not seen a single one of these self-published "booklets" that wasn't complete garbage (often looks like something ChatGPT scraped from websites, just copy/pasted into a Word document and sold as "an expert travel guide"). Read the reviews of these, and take a close look at one...perhaps useful in a pinch if you run out of TP in the loo, but no good at all for planning a trip or making game-day decisions.

I'm planning a trip to Corsica in 2024, and I believe I have all the current (or even recent) books available (someone please correct me if I've missed any). There's really just not much available that's worth bothering with.

Posted by
125 posts

Yes exactly what David said, the books like Lonely Planet are outdated. I did find the DK Eyewitness book but it was dated and very sparse. The most up to date one I found was Rough Guides Corsica from March 2016 but still sparse. I would have liked to have known that so many places just shut down as of October 1 and that wasn't mentioned anywhere. I also found 2 books by Noel Rochford -- Corsica Drives (10 car tours with accompanying walks and hikes) was awful, directions were really bad and we ditched it soon after we started the Cap Corse Drive. Corsica Walk & Eat was better, the food photos are awful, it's dated, and the recommended restaurants were all closed for the season but the walks were good and the directions for the Cascade des Anglais - Col de Vizzavona hike were good and very helpful.

Posted by
431 posts

Thank you for your interesting trip reports! I’d love to go to Corsica some day, and your detailed information is really helpful. I’ll be saving these posts!

I appreciate the time you took to share the highlights and basic travel info from your vacation!

Laurie😊

Posted by
246 posts

Corsica is on my list....looks like its untapped by tourism still

Posted by
125 posts

Spot on @morvegil. It's still very untouristed by Americans, mostly French and Italian tourists there.

Posted by
14580 posts

Thanks for the very informative report on Corsica.

Normally, I use Rough Guide but will augment that source by inquiring in the Tourist Office. This summer's trip in France I made it point to check the Tourist Office if I happened to come across them , as in Troyes, Orleans, Thionville, Albert/Somme, Arras, Rouen....all very helpful, welcoming, just nice folks.

Posted by
10340 posts

If you can deal with the French language, another excellent guidebook, more cultural than the others, is the Hachette Guide Bleu to Corse. (Corsica in English, Corse in French)

Posted by
125 posts

Thanks @Fred, I do the same. I like to follow the local TIs on social media when planning for the trip because they will often share events, tours, or whatever that I wouldn't find elsewhere. And their sites can be a trove of information for itinerary planning or finding guides and such. I also stopped in the local TI at each of our destinations in Corsica to pick up a city map and recommendations for points of interest. I still didn't see anything anywhere about time of year to visit, no warning that after October 1 most everything would be shut down.

@JoLui and @Bets thanks for the references! My French is enough to get by on vacation but not good enough to decipher a guidebook. 😊 I did post in the France forum on here when I was planning this trip to get advice and itinerary feedback but didn't receive any responses. It was a great trip, just wish I had better planning info.

Posted by
14580 posts

@ copperheadpdx.....You're welcome.

The Tourist Office can provide another option, that of arranging a taxi to take you out to somewhere in the boonies. I used this service this trip in France in Albert/Somme.

The Albert Tourist Office called up the taxi after having arranged with me an agreeable price (super reasonable) , r/t, picked me up at the TO in one hour, drove me out to the village of Fricourt , 3 KM or so, ( the size of a pin head on a map) . The taxi waited for me in Fricourt ca. 17 mins, a reasonable length of time, after which I paid the driver directly plus the tip.

All in all, historically it was worth it, taxed my French speaking ability, very nice.